The artist’s book has not been a personally relevant notion for me. And it has no direct connection to performing landscape. I am proud of the books I have written (two) and the books I have edited (five) and of the web-publications I have been editing with others and in general of all the texts I have written. However, when the artists on Harakka island decided to make an exhibition of artists’ books I wanted to join of course. And without much thought I decided I could participate with some kind of diary. And I especially did not think of it as a video diary, although one could think of the video works I have created on Harakka Island as video diaryies, too. The diary should be a material object, either a notebook bought from a shop (one such I did fill with daily I Ching drawing, but rejected as too easy), or then a pile of paper somehow made into a book.
For a while I had made ”the drawing of the day” each morning, and now I decided to develop this practice into some kind of result. First I drew the phases of the moon, with my ”inktense” pencils, which you can spread out and thin out with water and a brush. Then I started drawing horizons, simple combinations of two colours. And finally I ended up filling small watercolour sketchpads in such a way that the backside of the previous page and the actual page functioned as mirror images or opposites to one another (see image above and below). And in the upper left hand corner I wrote the date with a pencil. To begin with I experimented with placing the horizon on different levels, but soon ended up placing it more or less in the middle. Perhaps this was a result of my video project ”After Sugimoto”, which I started around the same time. His seascapes are divided exactly in two, one half is sky, and the other half is sea. At some point I planned to try all the possible colour combinations of my set of colour pencils, but soon realized that the ”book” would become much too thick. Thus my diary consists of drawings from 17. February to 5. June.
The real problem turned out to be how this pile of paper could be bound or tied or somehow compiled into a book. I planned to take the pile to a shoemaker and ask him to make some holes, so I could tie it myself. A fiend recommended a professional bookbinder, but I hesitated, since the papers did not have any margins for binding. When I finally dared contact them it turned out that they were on holiday. Luckily, I thought. But how to bind the book? I tried with a needle and thread, but the paper was thick and the needle bent. Finally I ended up sowing the papers together one at a time. And because I did it haphazardly, carelessly, the result looks rather funny, or actually clumsy. But why could not a diary be clumsy?
Funny enough, the first art exhibition I ever participated in consisted of diaries, curated by Hannu Gebhard for the Kluuvi Gallery in 1989. There I showed a notebook that was pierced by three holes and tied with wire and three Chinese coins. At that time my diary was irrevocably closed to others and to myself as well. Now my diary is open although it consists only of colours. An a little bit of black thread…
More information about the exhibition Kirjatekoja_English_tiedote+avaj and also here.